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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - March 2005 | Issue 4

In this issue you will find:


Important March Dates to Remember
  • March 23 - New York Open House
  • March 23 - Chicago Open House (Massage)
  • March 26 - San Diego Open House

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Oriental Medicine Brings New Life to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month

Fatigue is a common occurrence experienced by millions on a regular basis. However, for those suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), fatigue is a constant symptom in what is often thought of as an underlying systemic illness. Additional indicators of CFS consist of flu-like symptoms, generalized pain and memory problems, and an inability to perform mental or physical activities easily.

Though the cause of CFS remains unknown, it is quickly becoming recognized as a serious medical condition. Based on recent studies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as half a million people in the United States suffer from CFS.

Perhaps what is most frustrating about this illness is that there is no cure. Oriental medicine, however, has several techniques to manage CFS symptoms that are both safe and effective when administered by a licensed acupuncturist.

Focusing on the immune system, Oriental medicine combines acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise and meditation. Strengthening the immune system revitalizes the body which is a powerful tool in controlling CFS symptoms.

Studies show that the endorphins released by acupuncture can raise the amount of white blood cells, T-cells and anti-bodies in the body, which increase the body's level of immunity. Chinese herbal medicine, which is one of the most sophisticated herbal medicine systems in the world, also helps to boost the immune system by creating more antibodies, which fight disease.

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Acupuncture for Preventing & Treating Postoperative Nausea & Vomiting
By: Laurie B. Rosenblum, MPH

When general or local anesthesia is used for surgery, patients often experience nausea and vomiting following the procedure. This condition is called postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). Although PONV does not usually last longer than one day, it is important to treat because it is so unpleasant and can cause complications such as dehydration and stress. In rare cases, PONV can even cause reopening of the surgical incision. These complications can affect how soon patients are able to leave the hospital, and thus they may also increase medical care costs.

The traditional ways of preventing and treating PONV have been medication and trying different types of anesthesia. Since the 1980s, however, an increasing number of studies have shown that acupuncture is also effective in preventing and treating this disorder. Studies have compared acupuncture to everything from placebo treatment (placing of electrodes on the skin but with no stimulation), to medication, to both placebo and medication. In 1997 the National Institutes of Health issued the following consensus statement from leaders in the field:

There is clear evidence that needle acupuncture is efficacious for adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and probably for the nausea of pregnancy.?

Acupuncture Versus Medication for PONV

In recent years, studies have shown that acupuncture"in its variety of incarnations, including traditional acupuncture with needles, electro-acupuncture, transcutaneous nerve stimulation, laser stimulation, acustimulation device, and acupressure"is at least as effective if not more effective than medication in preventing and treating PONV for a number of conditions.

The Latest Study

The findings from the most recent of these studies were published in the October 2004 issue of the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia. In this study of 75 women undergoing breast cancer surgery, electro-acupoint stimulation and medication were each shown to be more effective than placebo. But more importantly, electroacupuncture was shown to be as effective as the medication ondansetron in preventing PONV, and more effective in controlling nausea once it started to occur. Electroacupuncture was also found effective in reducing pain caused by the surgery. Electroacupuncture has fewer side effects and is less costly than the medications currently being used, such as ondansetron. So overall, electroacupuncture appears to have more advantages. These findings are significant because surgery on the breasts has one of the highest rates of PONV of all types of surgery.

Review of Previous Studies

Researchers performed a systematic review of all the most scientifically rigorous studies of acupuncture for PONV up to and including January 2003, this included 26 randomized clinical trials. All of the studies compared acupuncture to treatment with placebo and/or drug therapy. Twenty of the studies involved adults undergoing elective surgery, and six involved children. A total of 3,347 patients participated between 1986 and 2002. The surgeries for which PONV was treated in the studies included: cesarean birth, gynecological, urological, gall bladder, cosmetic surgeries in adults, and eye and tonsil surgery in children. Different studies used different types of acupuncture, medications, and anesthesia.

The results of this evaluation clearly showed that acupuncture is more effective than placebo in decreasing the risk of PONV. Compared to use of a single medication, acupuncture is more effective in preventing nausea but not vomiting. The review also found that the side effects from acupuncture are only minor and are much less significant than those from medication. In addition, the researchers suggest that use of acupuncture rather than medication may help lower the costs of some surgeries for two reasons. First, acupuncture treatment is less expensive than drug therapy. Second, because acupuncture is more effective for preventing nausea, its use may reduce the length of time patients need to stay in the hospital. The reviews overall conclusion was that acupuncture is more worthwhile than medication for preventing PONV after a variety of surgeries.

Issues for Future Research

Several aspects of acupuncture treatment still remain to be studied and could lead to even more effective treatment of PONV. Studies should compare acupuncture alone to acupuncture in combination with a single medication or a combination of medications. Future studies are also needed to determine the best timing for using acupuncture to prevent PONV. They should compare use before, during, and after surgery. Also yet unknown is whether stimulation on both wrists is more effective than on just one wrist.

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Herbs for Sinuses

Spring is the season where blossoms bloom on the trees, and everything seems to come alive again. Spring also seems to herald in the beginning of allergy/ and sinus infection season. One way to knock out sinus troubles is by using herbs. Here are some single Western herbs you can use to cure you sinus infection.

Barberry and Goldenseal - have very similar therapeutic uses - both help combat infection, stimulate the activity of the immune system, and lower fever.

Echinacea - is used by many herbalists to cure infections like sinusitis.

Ephedra - The World Health Organization supports the use of ephedra as part of treatment for the common cold, hay fever, and sinusitis. Because of some serious risks associated with this herb (like stroke and irregular heart rhythm), use of ephedra should only take place under strict guidance and supervision by an herbal specialist and physician and only for short periods of time.

Eucalyptus oil - is a strong antibacterial and acts as an expectorant (loosens mucus in the respiratory passages) and antiseptic (prevents infection).

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"He who depends on himself will attain the greatest happiness."

Book of Odes

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - March 2005 | Issue 3

In this issue you will find:


Important March Dates to Remember
  • March 20 - First Day of Spring
  • March 23 - New York Open House
  • March 23 - Chicago Open House (Massage)
  • March 26 - San Diego Open House

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Acupuncture and Athletes: A New Trend in Sports Medicine

Acupuncture has been a growing trend in the world of sports. Athletes use it to ease tension caused by overtraining, heal and prevent future injury and to cope with the stress of competition. Standard medicine initially treats injury with the R.I.C.E. method -- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation -- but elite athletes are discovering that acupuncture can help speed the healing process.

Physical wellness is an important factor in athletic performance. Acupuncture creates a healthy, balanced body when used in conjunction with other therapies such as massage. Acupuncture can also decrease swelling, bruising and muscle spasms. It shortens healing time by improving blood supply to the affected area and increases the range of movement -- especially in the treatment of joint injuries -- by removing body waste products that cause swelling.

Acupuncture compels the body to create its own natural painkillers, anti-inflammatory and anti-stress hormones. Every athlete will respond differently to different types of treatments and therapies, and it is up to the physician to determine which combinations will work best for individual athletes, but from tennis elbow to twisted ankles to stressed knees, acupuncture can aid every type of athlete.

While most athletes are treated for body pain, mental effects of competitive sports are as important as physical aspects. According to Matt Callison, a faculty member at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and licensed acupuncturist in San Diego , Calif. , "After acupuncture treatment, the athlete feels the effect on the nervous and proprioceptive systems. The common response is less pain and a feeling of structural integrity; therefore, a side benefit is a psychological one, as the athlete subjectively knows he/she is getting better and able to compete again. In addition, by balancing the meridian systems with acupuncture, the sympathetic and parasympathetic reach homeostasis. This has a calming affect on the mind -- a direct benefit to injury rehabilitation."

Acupuncture's potential for athletic enhancement is massive, and its role in the world of sports is key for athletes and sports professionals who are anxious for that optimum performance.

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Back to Basics: Sleep

By: Jennifer M. Moffitt, MS, L.Ac., Dip. OM

While everyone understands the importance of a good night's sleep, many people in our culture are chronically sleep deprived, and don't realize that they either 1) don't get enough sleep or 2) don't benefit from the sleep they receive.

The Good

First before we cover anything else, let's define what constitutes a good night's sleep. Generally speaking, most people need 7-10 hours of sleep (surprise, surprise). The sleep should be deep, continuous and uninterrupted. Upon waking, you should feel rested and refreshed. Generally, it is considered normal to get up at night one time to urinate, but you should be able to fall back to sleep easily and quickly.

The Bad

Frequent sleep patterns I observe in patients that are not healthy, and that are problematic:

**You find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep (It should not take 2 hours!)

**You wake frequently during the night, or don't achieve a deep sleep

**You wake early in the morning (4 AM and can't go back to sleep)

**You need to urinate more than once per night

**You don't feel rested in the morning

**You have frequent active dreams or nightmares

**You suffer leg cramps or pain that make it difficult to sleep

The Western Medical Perspective

Now from the perspective of western medicine, insomnia is defined as the following:

**Difficulty falling asleep

**Waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep

**Waking up too early in the morning

**Unrefreshing sleep

Do you fit any of these categories? Surprisingly, the number of hours you sleep is not a determining factor in diagnosing insomnia. Rather, it is the quality and regularity of sleep that is most important. In allopathic medicine, it is generally accepted that people over 55 generally have shallower sleep that is more fragmented, with frequent waking and decreased daytime alertness.

Many patients with chronic pain or illness are surprised to discover that what they consider a "normal" sleep cycle may be very poor indeed. In my clinic, almost without exception I find that patients with pain, inflammatory conditions and chronic fatigue have poor sleep patterns, and that their subjective experience of pain is almost double that of someone who sleeps well. Like it or not, in order to achieve the best health possible, some time and attention must be given to improving your sleeping habits.

Sleep deprivation can make you fat.

In our discussions of qi and vital energy , it makes sense that if you don't sleep, then you don't get enough rest to recharge your batteries. But it is much more complex than that - chronic sleep deprivation interferes with the chemical messengers (called hormones) that the body uses to communicate on a cellular level. Now most of us think of hormones as those pesky critters that cause problems in personal relationships, a lá Mars-Venus, or what changes during menopause, pregnancy, etc. But there are literally dozens of hormones used by the body to communicate between systems - we understand a mere fraction of how they interact with each other. But to disrupt the endocrine system means that even if you give the body the best nutrition and supplements in the world, it may not recognize the fuel that you give it or be able to use it appropriately. The body's failure to recognize its own fuel it may explain some of the overeating patterns seen in our society today.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that they were able to induce a pre-diabetic state in their healthy male subjects (ages 18 - 27) merely by limiting their sleep to 4 hours per night for one week. They found that the metabolic and endocrine changes from significant sleep debt mimic the aging process, and suggest that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but also the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss. (1,2,3) These metabolic changes were particularly strong when tested in the morning, with glucose tolerance tests that were consistent with the diagnostic criteria for impaired glucose tolerance, an indication of early-stage diabetes. Furthermore, patients with chronic sleep deprivation had higher circulating levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) with implications for inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. (4)

The good news, however, is that all study patients returned to baseline levels after spending more than 12 hours in bed, with added benefits noted when they consistently spent more than 8 hours in bed per night. The studies suggest that our health may be improved by getting more than 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis.

Turn off the computer.

When working with a new patient, before I consider herbs or other measures, I find it helpful to consider behavior when it comes to bedtime and sleep. How do you typically spend the evening hours? Believe it or not, our activities in the evening have a profound impact on our ability to have restorative sleep, and minor activity changes can yield dramatic results with little other intervention.

It is important to establish an evening sleep ritual. Parents of young children already know this - my friends with young children jealously guard regularity and bedtime like mother tigers. This does not change as we age - the body likes and needs regularity, and you can actually help re-train the body to sleep by following the same patterns every night before bed.

Make a rule with yourself to turn off the computer or stop studying/book work by 9 PM or so. Many times, folks who work on the computer or in the office until it's time for bed are surprised when they cannot fall asleep. From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, analytical work causes the qi to rise to the head, which can lead to the mental-hamster-wheel that so many of us experience in the evening. If this seems unrealistic, remember that the time sacrificed working in the evening is often made up for by greater productivity and better health during the day. Whatever benefits you may have derived from working or studying late are soon wasted after a night tossing and turning.

Other supportive practices include:

**Take a hot bath or shower, and give yourself a nightly massage on the feet with pure therapeutic grade lavender oil to help to calm the mind and move the qi out of the head. (I stress pure lavender oil here because perfumed soaps and lotions do not have the same medicinal properties that pure plant extracts do. Therapeutic grade oils can usually be found at Henry's, Whole Foods, or your local health food store. Young Living Essential Oils makes a very pure Lavender oil which you can purchase online. Young children and folks with sensitive skin should dilute pure lavender oil with olive oil before rubbing onto their feet.)

**Avoid any caffeine, soda, green tea or chocolate after 5 pm.

**Go to bed on an empty stomach!! This one is HUGE: the body's digestive processes slow down at night, and a heavy meal such as roast beef, gravy, french fries and cheesecake can keep your stomach busy digesting for over 8 hours. You won't sleep as soundly during this process, and some of my patients don't sleep at all. A low-fat meal such as fish and veggies can be digested in a few hours, and you can facilitate this by the use of a digestive enzyme. For folks with heartburn, hiatal hernia, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), this is even more important. If scheduling is a problem, then you might choose to make lunch your biggest meal, and eat more simply in the evenings to avoid the "boa-constrictor-like" lump that will sit in your tummy and interfere with sleeping.

**For my patients with nocturia (frequent urination at night) it is often helpful to avoid beverages after 7 PM until we strengthen the bladder and kidneys.

**Gentle, slow moving hatha yoga or qi gong can help relax the body and calm restless mental chatter. Be careful to maintain slow ground postures which do not induce sweat or strain. The focus should be to clear the mind and relax the body rather than a work out or strengthening.

**Go to be a little earlier to take advantage of the Yin energy available before midnight.

Remember that we described yin as cooling, night, inert, and in TCM theory, sleep is described as falling into "the envelope of yin," which is at its peak before midnight. The most beneficial sleep is, in fact, that which is achieved before midnight, with every hour before worth 2 of the hours afterwards. Whether that is literally the case remains to be seen, but it is generally harder for the body to slip into that "cool mantle of yin" after 12 AM.

If you take all these steps and still do not have restful sleep, accept the fact that you may need to get some outside help to restore the body's sleep cycle. For patients with chronic disease and pain, this is even more important.

Acupuncture and oriental medicine can be extremely helpful for treating many types of insomnia, and you may want to start there.

Remember that chronic insomnia disrupts many areas of the body's chemistry, so it will take time and patience to see results, sometimes several months. Don't stop treatment before the miracle happens. most of my regular senior patients now sleep better than I do.


1. Plat, L., Leproult, R., L'Hermite-Baleriaux, M., Fery, F., Mockel, J., Polonsky, K.S., & Van Cauter, E. (1999). Metabolic effects of short-term elevations of plasma cortisol are more pronounced in the evening than in the morning. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 84, 3082-3092, http://endocrinology.uchicago.edu/facultypages/fac_cauter.html

2. Spiegel, K., Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (1999). Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Lancet, 354, 1435-1439

3. Van Cauter, E., Leproult, R., & Plat, L. (2000). Age-related changes in slow wave sleep and REM sleep and relationship with growth hormone and cortisol levels in healthy men. Journal of the American Medical Association, 284, 861-868.

4. Redwine, Laur, Richard L. Hauger, J. Christian Gillin and Michael Irwin. Effects of Sleep and Sleep Deprivation on Interleukin-6, Growth Hormone, Cortisol, and Melatonin Levels in Humans The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 85, No. 10 3597-3603 ( http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/85/10/3597 )

5. Pathophysiology of the Endocrine System ( http://arbl.cvmbs.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/ )

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Spring Health Notes

In Traditional Chinese Medicine our bodies and our selves reflect the natural world we live in. Being in harmony with the seasons increases health and well being.

Spring is a great time to start or move forward with new projects, exercise programs, and creative endeavors. With spring cleaning - "Keep it if it helps you grow; if you don't need it let it go."

The color for spring is green. Eating green vegetables and hiking in green woods are especially beneficial at this time of year, helping you to increase flexibility which is especially important in the spring. Stretching protects your tendons and sinews.

Qi gong movement and breathing exercises can help you to achieve optimal physical and emotional balance, easing irritability and anger that can arise at this time of year. Take a class, or ask your practitioner to demonstrate.

Wind rises in the spring. Keep the back of your neck covered on windy days to prevent spring cold/flus.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"True knowledge is when one knows the limitations of one's knowledge."


Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - January 2005 | Issue 1

Welcome to the latest issue of the Pacific College Newsletter! In this issue you will find:

•  Important January Dates to Remember
•  After Vioxx: Oriental Medicine's Role in Pain Therapy
•  Shed Unwanted Pounds with Chinese Medicine
•  Herbal Naturopathy
•  Balancing Yin & Yang using aromatherapy
•  Top Ten Winter Warmers
•  Chinese Wisdom


Important January Dates to Remember

•  January 3 - Winter 2005 Semester Begins for San Diego , New York & Chicago
•  January 13 - New York Open House
•  January 19 - Chicago Open House (MTOM Program)
•  January 24-30 - Healthy Weight Week

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After Vioxx: Oriental Medicine's Role in Pain Therapy

Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra - there's distressing news for people taking what were considered to be safe drugs for long-term use. It turns out that while a widely-used class of drugs called COX-2 inhibitors can produce less gastrointestinal damage than common anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and ibuprofen, all users do not enjoy the benefit. What's more, COX-2 use may greatly increase cardiovascular problems. This news is frustrating for the consumer. It is estimated that 70 million Americans have some form of arthritis. According to IMS Health, forty million COX-2 prescriptions were written in the first nine months of 2004.

Effective remedies for pain, however, may lie with a therapy that has been around for a very long time. Acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners have been treating pain for thousands of years. Beneficial analgesic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and regenerative effects may occur by stimulating key energy points on the body through acupuncture. From a western perspective, research has shown acupuncture's ability to trigger release of endorphins and enkaphalins - the body's opiate-like chemicals. In 2004 a Swedish study ( Clinical Journal of Pain ) showed improvement with acupuncture for hip osteoarthritis, and a Spanish study ( British Medical Journal ) showed improvement in knee pain with acupuncture over drug therapy alone.

Acupuncture can balance your energy to lessen symptoms, and herbal preparations can keep the inflammation in check and reduce sensitivity to pain. Additionally, joint pain can be substantially affected with consistent gentle exercises such as qi gong, tai qi, and long walks . Qi (chee) is the Chinese term for the body's energy flow. Suggestions for pain may well include developing more comprehensive ways of dealing with mental and emotional stress.

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Chinese Medicine Helps Shed Those Extra Pounds

Now that the holidays are over and the long nights of eating and merry-making are behind us, Lose Weight and Feel Great Month this January reminds us that now we need to shed those extra pounds we probably gained.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 97.1 million adults are overweight, and 39.8 million of those people also meet the criteria for obesity. Approximately 280,000 deaths and 39.3 million missed workdays are attributable to obesity each year.

While Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services, the prevalence of obesity increased by almost 30 percent between 1991 and 2000. Those seeking an alternative to diet fads and short-term solutions are turning to lifestyle changes that often include the use of acupuncture and tai chi.

When attempting to diet, many people experience withdrawal, or cravings, because of a lack of endorphins. The need to eat is often so strong that dieters binge on food. This is one reason why diets often cause people to gain more weight rather than lose it.

Acupuncture and tai chi counterbalance these cravings by releasing endorphins in the brain, which actually alleviate the withdrawal symptoms many dieters experience and eventually succumb to.

Weight gain can also be caused by stress, which increases cortizol levels in the body. This increase in cortizol can alter metabolism, thus causing stressed people to gain weight. As with cravings, the endorphins released by acupuncture and the gentle motions of tai chi also help reduce stress, which can reduce the need to overeat.

Both tai chi and acupuncture can also stimulate the hyopthalamus. This induces weight loss because the hypothalamus regulates the body's thyroid and hormone levels, which in turn regulate metabolism.

In addition to regulating the body internally, tai chi also provides the benefits of exercise by building strength, restoring balance and increasing flexibility. Tai Chi's gentle movements and low physical impact make it a great activity for aging bodies, those recovering from injury, or people looking to change up their exercise routine.

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Herbal Naturopathy By: Malcolm Simmonds

Herbs and naturopathy are two approaches that complement one another to form a whole system of healthcare - herbal naturopathy. To see how, it is useful to look at some of the significant features of the two individual disciplines.


For thousands of years herbs were the principal form of medical treatment. They have overshadowed only in the last hundred years or so by western science-based medicine, which views the body as a set of chemical reactions rather than an organic whole. Modern medicine tends to use drugs to suppress the symptoms of illness. Herbs, on the other hand, aim to assist the body's own healing processes which, by definition, work on the body as a complete whole.

Herbal means of promoting health are becoming more and more popular and people are becoming increasingly distrustful of the powerful and frequently toxic drugs prescribed by mainstream medical practitioners. Newspaper and magazine articles dealing with herbs appear with increasing frequency, and herbal treatments are becoming more accepted among some general practitioners and other members of the medical profession.

Sometimes a strong herbal remedy is required and in these cases it is necessary to consult a practitioner who has an extensive herbal training. These stronger remedies can provide a very effective treatment, but they can be costly and time-consuming.

Milder herbal products can be found at health food shops or mail-order suppliers of which Specialist Herbal Supplies is one. These products can be used safely without the need for supervision. Being milder in their effects, however, they are likely to be more effective when combined with naturopathy.


Although the term 'naturopathy' is only beginning to become more widely recognised, many of its methods are familiar and include the following:

- Exercise

- Diet

- Relaxation, including some psycho-therapeutic approaches such as meditation or counselling

- Moderate exposure to sunshine

- Hydrotherapeutic (water-based) treatments, such as hot baths, alternating immersion of parts of the body in hot and cold water, and hip baths for the pelvic areas

- Bowel cleansing through enemas or colonics, and liver cleansing

- Bony and soft tissue manipulation

Naturopathy uses various combinations of these methods to promote health. Here is more detail on some of these.


Health can be improved in a variety of ways with the help of dietary changes. One of the simplest improvements to make is to increase the quantities of fruit and vegetables in the diet. A mixed salad with each main meal is a simple and extremely beneficial way of increasing the quantity of minerals, vitamins and enzymes consumed each day. The health-giving properties of a salad can be enhanced by using a dressing that includes, among other ingredients, extra virgin olive oil, organic cyder vinegar, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper and mustard.


Although not usually considered to be part of a diet, fasting allows the energy usually expended on digesting food to be diverted to the body's natural self-healing processes.

There are a number of options when fasting. The most severe method is to abstain from eating food completely for a number of days. This fast should be supervised by a naturopath. A milder version of fasting is to eat only fruit, or drink nothing but fruit juice for two or three consecutive days. Several pounds of fruit or several litres of juice, plus additional water to drink, would be needed each day.  If you are basically well, you can safely use these milder forms of fasting on your own, and repeat each two weeks for two or three days. Otherwise a naturopath's help is again recommended.

Three considerations when carrying out any type of fast are:

1. Plan to have extra rest.

2. Expect some headaches at first - especially if you suddenly cut out drinking tea and coffee. Headaches can occur as extra toxins pass from the tissues into the blood stream. This is much more likely if you suddenly withdraw from caffeine consumption. It is better to slowly reduce then eliminate tea and coffee over a week or so. The likelihood of headaches reduces each time you fast.

3. After the fast, take a day to gently re-introduce starchy foods and protein to allow your body to get used to them again.


It is surprising how many people take virtually no exercise other than walking around in the normal course of their lives. This contributes to widespread heart problems and obesity. For many people, introducing moderate exercise - such as taking up a sport, having a long walk twice a week or learning to dance - would greatly benefit health. Exercise increases the circulation of body fluids that carry nutrients to, and waste products from, every organ, muscle and tissue in the body.

With exercise, there is the same range of options of 'mild' to 'extreme' that are found in the in the other naturopathic activities listed above. Exercise needs to be carried out, but not to the point where it's distressing.

Exercise need not cost anything. Although it's possible to join a gym, you could do at least as well by taking a long walk every day which would cost you nothing.

Herbal Naturopathy

Combining mild herbal products with naturopathy results in a valuable and effective system. The more specific nature of the herbs, which are aimed at particular organs or areas of the body, complements the generally helpful effects of naturopathy on the body's overall health.

But where do you start?

One way is to decide which area of your life you would benefit most from improving: your eating habits, exercise, stress management or working habits. Or perhaps you would like to make some changes in more than one of these areas. Set a day when you are going to start implementing these changes.

Then, choose which areas most need herbal support. If you are generally in good health, then you would probably benefit most from colon cleansing and liver cleansing. These are two of the main organs which eliminate toxins from the body, and so you will benefit from cleansing these organs.

Keep Yourself Healthy

If you are ill, do visit a practitioner for a consultation and treatment plan. But if you are healthy and want to keep well, herbal naturopathy is a practical and empowering approach which will help you to care for your own health.

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Balancing Yin & Yang with aromatherapy

There was a constant reminder that we 'are part of Nature and channeled into the cycles of Nature'. Hence the Five Element theory which provides us with a set of correspondences by which we can link our physical and

psychological characteristics with the seasons, the elements, times of day, specific foods, animals and so on. In ancient rural China this was a far simpler process than in modern Western highly urbanized society and, yet, the rules remain unchanged. The health and sense of well-being of the individual is in direct relationship with his or her social and environmental matrix. This includes such factors as the quality of our food and water, the air we breathe, weather conditions, relaxation, sleep, work, exercise and relationships of all kinds.

In our current attempt to control, manipulate and exploit both natural and human 'resources', often solely in the search of short-term profit, we are violating laws that will only lead to a rising incidence of physical and mental ill-health. Many of our illnesses today are related to stresses, such as increased pressure in working and family life and the increasing toxicity in our food, air and water in the form of complex cocktails of chemicals and radiations. As individuals, we have certain immediate choices we can make in regard to our health, such as how much we choose to smoke or drink or how much exercise we take. Ultimately, however, we may have to look further at the wider political and economic structures if we are to achieve a society which is more in tune with natural forces and more caring of our health and well-being.

If we look at the principles of Chinese medicine we see that, like everything else in the universe, our bodies can be classified according to the two distinct forces of Yin and Yang. These forces are in constant interplay. The Yin force is more substantial and is associated with the interior front and lower parts of the body. It moistens and cools. It is associated with night and darkness and promotes relaxation and sleep. Yin is more heavy and material and will condense and contract. It is associated with the earth, the moon, autumn, winter, decrease and inwardness. A person who is deficient in Yin may suffer slight fever or feelings of heat in the late afternoon, night sweating and a dry throat at night, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and restlessness. The tongue will be red, peeled and cracked. This is because the cooling moistening grounding aspects of Yin are not apparent. Oils such as the rose and geranium support the function of Yin. These oils are often used during the menopause when the Yin energy of the woman is depleted.

Yang is associated with the back, exterior and upper parts of the body. It is energizing, moving and less substantial. It is hot and dry and associated with day, the sun, spring, summer, increase and expansion. If Yang in the body is deficient, the person may be cold, pale, depressed and lethargic. The tongue will be pale with a white coating and the pulse weak. Essential oils which promote Yang in the body are warm tonifying oils such as ginger, rosemary, thyme and cinnamon. These are herbs and spices we instinctively use in winter to counteract the cold Yin time of year along with warming, cooked food.

If Yang is in excess, there will be too much heat and activity in the body resulting in fever, burning pains, inflammation, dryness, red tongue and rapid pulse. The differences between excess Yang and deficient Yin is that one is a 'full' overactive condition and the other an 'empty' depleted condition. Essential oils to counteract excess Yang are cooling, moistening oils such as lavender, lemon, camomile and melissa. Our diet should have a preponderance of raw, cooling foods such as salads and fruit. 

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1.   Skin brush every morning on awaking to feel re-invigorated. Skin brushing improves blood circulation and lymphatic circulation. Not only increasing body temperature but also improving general immunity.

2.   Mustard, Ginger & Cayenne powder added to your bath. Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of this mixture to running bath water. This remedy is especially helpful to those suffering with colds and flu. The diaphoretic (sweating) action of these warming herbs can also balance the circulation. (In other circumstances, they are also valuable for 'sweating out' a fever.)

3.   Exercise . Gentle or otherwise (especially 'Cardio vascular' stimulants such as running, skipping, swimming) gives a boost to the circulation, Immune System and body temperature.

4.   Drink Ginger Root Tea . Ginger Root tea is a great winter warmer. Ginger is slow acting but it's warming effects tend to last longer than the powerful initial 'hit' that Cayenne gives. Ginger teas can be found in your local supermarkets in convenient tea bags. However, using the fresh root (found in all good supermarkets) grated, gently simmered for 5-10 minutes and strained, makes a superior and cost-effective tea, if you've got the time to make it.

 5.  Add a pinch of Cayenne powder to food and drink. Cayenne Pepper is available in powder from all good supermarkets. Just a pinch or even a few grains mixed into foods and drinks will increase body temperature and blood circulation. If used regularly, you will get more used to it, and you will gradually be able to use more and more of this fine herb.

6.   Make sure your ankles and wrists are always well covered. If these sensitive areas of the body are exposed to the cold, your hands and feet will naturally become colder too, and your whole body is soon affected. Cover them well.

7.   Use multiple layers of clothing . In cold weather, layered clothing is essential. At least three layers should be worn. The layer closest to your skin should be very warm, but soft and comfortable such as thermal underwear, longjohns etc. Next, comes a padded or cushioned layer which is quite thick e.g. woollen jumper or fleeced jumper. This traps air which is a great insulator. Finally, the outer layer which helps to keep the insulating air within the middle layer. This outer layer needs to be appropriate to your situation a light jacket for inside, or waterproof jackets and trousers of some sort if outside.

8.   Maximise your chances of keeping warm by always wearing your 'winter set' .

Q: What is a 'winter set'?

A: Hat, Scarf and Gloves.

A high percentage of heat is lost via your head, so, wearing a hat will minimize this loss. Your throat is the easiest pathway for bacteria and viral infections to enter the body. Your immune cells work more efficiently at higher temperatures. This is the reason why your body produces a fever during infections and why it is a mistake to try and lower the fever with aspirin (unless it gets dangerously high.) So keep your neck and throat warm with a scarf. If your hands are cold then the rest of your body will eventually feel very cold. Improving blood circulation will help to keep extremities warm.

9. Eat warming foods . This covers a large spectrum of foods. There are the hot foods which give a napalm blast but then the warming effects are over fairly quickly. For example, Chili con carne; Vindaloo; Mexican tacos; Chili sauce; Tabasco sauce; Horseradish sauce etc. More gentle but longer lasting warming foods would include Porridge oats; all winter root vegetables i.e. swede, turnip; Garlic; Ginger; Onions; Barley; Soups; Stews/Casseroles; Raw foods (this may seem strange, but more heat is produced through digesting raw foods then eating cooked foods).

10.  Keep your Kidneys warm. Your Kidneys are in the small of your back just underneath your rib cage. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Kidneys hold the life force the 'chi' of the human body. Therefore these small but crucial organs need much care and attention which for the most part is rarely undertaken by their owners! The Kidneys are related to the Winter element, and Water. They are involved in rheumatism or arthritis and weakness in the knees or ankles.

Keep your Kidneys warm with extra padding, a belt or scarf wrapped around your middle, or sleeveless jacket, or just ensure your clothing is tucked in so there is no space for a draught. This will help to keep your whole body warm throughout the winter months.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

"He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever."

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - February 2005 | Issue 2

Celebrate Chinese New Year! In this issue you will find:


Important February Dates to Remember

  • February 7-13 - Cardiac Rehabilitation Week
  • February 9 - Chinese New Year
  • February 11 - New York Campus Celebrates Chinese New Year
  • February 12 - San Diego Chinese New Year Open House
  • February 26 - Chicago Chinese New Year Open House

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Chinese New Year: Year of the Rooster

Welcome to the year of the Rooster! The Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2600 BC. The Chinese calendar is a yearly one, with the start of the year being based on the cycles of the moon. Therefore, the beginning of the year can fall anywhere from late January to mid February. This year it falls on February 9, 2005.

A complete cycle of the calendar takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each. Each of the 12 years is named after an animal. Legend says that Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from the earth. Only 12 came to say farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person was born has a profound influence on his/her personality. The Chinese Zodiac consists of the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

In the Lunar Calendar, the Rooster is considered to be the most misunderstood and eccentric of all the signs. People born in the year of the Rooster are hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented. Outwardly, Roosters are self-assured and aggressive, but at heart can be conservative and old-fashioned. Their powerful personalities can lead them to be vivacious, amusing, and the life of the party. However, Roosters can be conceited creatures, with a tendency to be vain and boastful.

Though Roosters are practical creatures, they are also born dreamers. Roosters have a tendency to become so completely caught up in the dreams they create, they are often disappointed when reality fails to compare to their fantasies.

Cautious, skeptical and perceptive, Roosters make excellent trouble shooters and take pride in working hard and following the rules. Their inbred organizational skills enable Roosters to keep everything neat and tidy, with all of their affairs in order, accounts up to date, and documents systematically filed away. They function best in an environment where everything is organized and their schedules programmed. Their biggest strength is management of finances both on a personal and professional level. When it comes to money, Roosters are prudent and careful, and are brilliant managers of other people's money. The Rooster has the reputation of finding money in the most unlikely place, like drawing blood from a stone.

When it comes to making decisions of any kind, Roosters prefer to carefully consider all sides of a situation before coming to a conclusion. In conflicts, Roosters will push to the extreme, but flee before open hostilities break out. Their reflective and analytical abilities sometimes get the better of them. They must constantly question their point of view to ascertain its validity. Yet, there are no hidden depths to the Roosters character. They are simply honest and straightforward creatures. This makes Rooster the most devoted friends, who are always true to their word. Roosters are the most loyal sign of the zodiac. Once settled in a permanent relationship, Roosters are highly unlikely to deceive or cheat on their partners.

Those born under the Rooster are colorful and controversial people, who will never fail to leave an impression. October is the month of the Rooster, and their direction of orientation is west. The color of the Rooster is peach. The Snake, Ox and Dragon understand Roosters and would make ideal partners. They would gain much from a friendship with the Monkey and Boar. The introverted Rabbit does not trust the Rooster and won't put up with his boasting. Power struggles and miscommunications may erupt between the Rooster and the Tiger. The Rooster and the Rat are competitive rivals and completely incompatible.

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Pacific College Celebrates Chinese New Year

In celebration of Chinese New Year, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine will be hosting free events on each of our three campuses.

On Friday, February 11, 2005, Pacific's New York campus will be holding a free community style acupuncture clinic from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. All are invited to attend, with appointments being taken on a drop-in basis.

In San Diego , Pacific College will be hosting an Open House and Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday, February 12, 2005. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include complimentary stress reduction acupuncture and massage treatments, workshops on Tai Ji and Qi Gong, and informational lectures. Lecture topics include, "The Profession of Chinese Medicine," "Cold & Flu Prevention," "Healing the Spirit," and the "Therapeutic Benefits of Oriental Massage." A certificate for a $10 acupuncture treatment will also be presented to those who attend.

Pacific's Chicago campus will be holding a similar Chinese New Year celebration, Saturday, February 26, 2005 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event will include complimentary acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation, stress reduction, weight loss, and well being, as well as 15-minute massages. The event will also include Qi Gong demonstrations, and an informational lecture titled, "Introduction to the History of Chinese Medicine." Those who attend will receive a free Chinese New Year celebration gift.

Celebrations at each campus will provide refreshments and an open invitation to the public to tour the campus. Staff and faculty will also be available to further attendees' knowledge of Pacific College 's programs and the field of Oriental medicine.

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Properties of Oriental Medicine Herbs

Bitter, Pungent, Salty, Bland, Sweet, Astringent, Sour, Warm, Cold, Neutral, Hot and Aromatic.

To use herbs within the scope of Chinese Herbology, one must first understand the properties (the personality which dictates how an herb will function) of each herb beyond the scope of its category. Properties are tastes, temperatures, and qualities of an herb. The possible tastes are sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, bland, salty, astringent, and aromatic. It may have other qualities such as toxic. The possible temperatures are cool, cold, warm, neutral, and hot.

It is very important to understand that herbs do not possess one quality. They are most always a combination of properties and temperatures and may reach one to as many as twelve organ systems. These combinations of qualities give each herb their character, and if you understand the functions behind the properties, than you can surmise what an herb is capable of before even becoming acquainted with it. Learning to combine the appropriate formula for each patient is a medical art which takes years to develop. A tremendous amount of respect should be given to those who do it well.

Sweet: If an herb is sweet, it can do one of a few things. This depends on it category and the other tastes and qualities it is combined with. For example, an herb which is sweet and cold and falls within the yin tonic category will tonify yin. These herbs are usually sticky and can not be mistaken for much else. However, an herb which is sweet and cold can also promote urination. These herbs are found within different categories. It is a quality an herb may possess in addition to its category. Another function of herbs which are sweet and cold is promoting fluids. This is a common function of herbs in the quell fire category where water is needed to put out the fire. Warm herbs which are sweet are found in the tonify Yang category. This is another example of sweetness which is tonifying in nature. The Qi tonics share these properties with the exception of a few neutral temperatured herbs. The digestive category is also filled with sweet herbs because most of these herbs have other functions which are moving (digestive) in nature and the sweetness helps to strengthen (tonify) as the other properties function to digest. A good herbalist understands that sweetness tends to be sticky, and therefore, will clog things up if they are not moving well. To prevent this kind of clogging, these herbs must be combined with herbs which are moving in nature to protect against this side effect.

Bitter: This quality functions to descend, to dry, to detoxify. Many herbs in the pharmacopoeia are bitter. This taste is one which spans numerous categories. If one looks closer at each individual herb, if it contains a bitter quality, it will serve one of the above functions. It is important to note that because this taste has a drying quality to it, It is prudent to protect against it in preexisting conditions of dryness, such as yin deficiency. Because bitterness descends, it is also prudent to beware of this quality in pregnant women as the fetus could be encouraged to descend as well with the use of such herbs.

Pungent: This is a moving force used for such things as moving Qi, ridding the body of phlegm, or expelling pathogens from the surface of the body outward. It is often seen in the anti-rheumatic category (also known as the Wind-Damp category) to eradicate painful joint conditions which Oriental Medicine recognizes as a Wind-Damp pathogen lodged in the interior. This is because an herb which is pungent in nature possesses the power of movement. It is present in numerous other categories where movement is a function of the category. One must be careful in those who are weak, or dry, or even pregnant in using such herbs. It is also important to remember that movement, like us when we exercise, creates warmth. So if you use an herb which is pungent and cold in nature, don't be surprised if some warmth results despite the cold temperature of the herb.

Salty: A salty herbs has the ability to detoxify (sore throat for example), dissolve (nodules, for example), and carry herbs to the Kidney system. Most herbs which from animal products or sea products are salty. If they are from the sea, they are almost always salty and cold. Salt, as we all know may encourage the retention of fluids in the body, so other herbs must be used to guard against this tendency so as not to disrupt the fluid balance of the patient.

Bland: Bland herbs are mostly only seen in the drain damp category. This group is made up of sweet and cold herbs (which we stated previously promotes urination) and sweet and bland herbs which accomplish the same task. Bland herbs are said to be mild and without taste, hence their name.

Astringent and Sour: Sour is very similar to astringent in its function and many herbs which are astringent are sour, and all herbs which are sour have some sort of astringent function. Let us clarify this issue. There is an entire category of astringent herbs some of which are sour and there are many sour herbs which astringe slightly, but not strongly enough to be primarily categorized as an astringent. Sour herbs "gently preserve" (hence the expression preserving Yin) while astringents actually "restrain" (as in urine, sweat, semen, etc...)! Bai Shao (Peoniae Albae), for example, is sour. It is definitely not an astringent herb, yet it does gently astringe the blood it is used to supply. Its primary function is to nourish blood and this is its primary category. Its secondary functions are based on the fact that it is sour.

Hot: In the Chinese pharmacopoeia, there is one basic group of hot herbs. This is the interior warming category. These herbs are used for conditions of severe and often acute internal coldness. There is only one exception to this rule. There is one Yang tonic which is hot. Hot is obviously warming and moving as well. Unlike cold which contracts, heat expands.

Warm: This temperature will create movement and of course warmth. It is important not to use warm herbs with patients with warm conditions unless the formula is very well balanced as not to exacerbate the hot condition. Warm herbs are also drying in nature and may dry up the Yin if not combined properly with the appropriate herbs in such circumstances.

Cold: Coldness does inside the body exactly what it does to us when we are exposed to it outside. It contracts! It slows down and contracts. This is not a temperature you want to use if stagnation is a problem, unless of course, you are combining the cold herbs with other herbs that move so as to prevent against this side effect.

Neutral: There are not too many neutral herbs in the pharmacopoeia These herbs are said to be neither hot nor cold and are often considered more gentle because of this.

Aromatic: Aromatic is drying, transforming, and moves upward and outward. Many of the herbs which are used to release exterior syndromes (as with the common cold) are assisted by the aromatic quality which assists their already pungent nature in releasing the pathogenic invasion from the body. Other herbs which are aromatic are herbs used to transform dampness. These herbs are focused on treating damp conditions and transforming (drying and moving it) this dampness. The aromatic quality, as I said, is ascending in nature which assists in the "awakening" of the Spleen which in turn will naturally rid the body of its damp condition.

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The Journal Of Chinese Medicine Celebrates It's 25th Year

In 1979, Oriental medicine in the Western world was still in its infancy. With few books on Chinese medicine written or translated in the English language, it was difficult for a practitioner to find new material exploring the theory or practice of Oriental medicine in any depth. Until Peter Deadman, a newly qualified practitioner began a small journal titled, the Journal of Chinese Medicine.

The first few years of the journal produced a primitive home based publication that read like a basic textbook. Early issues focused on presenting clear, detailed information on basic Chinese medicine theory that had previously been unavailable in English.

Working as a pioneer to bring in-depth material to the mainstream audience, the journal spent its formative years as a fairly small and novel publication. However, as time passed and Oriental medicine began to grow as a profession, the journal continued to develop as a resource tool for those in the industry.

Now marking the success of its 25 th year, the Journal of Chinese Medicine has become deeply imbedded within the Oriental medicine profession throughout England and Europe, and more recently in the United States . The Journal of Chinese Medicine is recognized as the premier English language journal on all aspects of Chinese medicine. As other journals have come and gone through the years, the journal has managed to maintain its high academic standards, which has enabled it to remain distinctly different than its counterparts.

"Today the change in the journal is pronounced from what it once was," said Peter Deadman, Publisher of The Journal of Chinese Medicine. " We have built up an enormous body of back content, which has proven invaluable as more Western medical practitioners of Oriental medicine seek to become experts in various areas of TCM. Material written 20 years ago is still valid today."

Perhaps one of the most beneficial tools the Journal provides is a comprehensive CD-Rom, which features all of the Journals issues from the beginning. The CD-Rom also provides an extensive amount of research on everything from Oriental medicine, to tai chi, and diet and exercise and lifestyle behavior.

"The Journal CD-Roms compile the same material that would be covered in 20-30 textbooks," said Deadman. "We have a vast and constantly growing body of references on the CD-Rom."

With the Journal continuing to expand its horizons to keep up with the growth of the Chinese medicine profession, the Journal is committed in providing the most recent and comprehensive information to enable practitioners to keep learning.

"Since our humble beginnings, the Journal like the Chinese medicine profession in the West has come along way," said Deadman. "Looking towards the future we want to keep moving forward, hold our own, and be respected. People need to keep growing and learning. A good journal is the best way for people to do that."

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Common Chinese Herbal Formulas for Pain Due To Trauma

By: Robert Chu, L.Ac

Throughout my many years in my sports and martial arts, I have come across many trauma (known in Chinese as dit da, literally "fall and strike") prescriptions for herbal liniments, powders, plasters, and decoctions. Many Chinese are familiar with herbal liniments that are used for bruises, sprains, strains, fractures, and other trauma, due to a blow or fall. These formulas can all be used by weekend athletes and others who have to visit their sports medicine doctor. Beware of claims, "My secret formula is the best!" In the past, I stared with amazement and almost revered the brown, smelly liniment as I rubbed it into my bruises and training aches and pains.

After studying Chinese medicine and learning the fundamental principles, etiology of disease, methods of diagnosis, herbology, massage, acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping, I learned that a Chinese medicine practitioner must tailor treatments to the individual, and no set method is used to cure everyone or every injury. Indeed, one liniment I used regularly for bruises did heal my bruises in a few days, but always made me break out in a rash that lasted for two weeks! It always seemed to me that the cure was almost as bad as the injury or worse!

I later analyzed the prescription's individual ingredients and, through diagnosis, found my personal constitution had a lot of heat. Although the traditional formula has some very toxic and warm herbs in it, based on my constitution, these herbs were not for me. The result of having a warm constitution, living in a warm climate ( Los Angeles ), plus using warm herbs was inflammation, a rash.

Tradition or not, this prescription was not for me. Instead, I substituted the prepared versions of the above herbs and the effect was more agreeable for my individual constitution. Most experienced herbalists take a base formula and customize it for the individual. Thus, there is not one true, secret, ultimate trauma prescription! So beware of such claims.

Generally speaking, commercial forms of Chinese herbal trauma formulas like Xiao Huo Luo Dan (small invigorate collaterals pill), Bai Hua Yu (white flower oil), Tian Qi Jiu (first aid antiseptic), Yunnan Bai Yao ( yunnan white powder), and Zheng Gu Shui (correct the bone liniment), are safe and effective for most everyday injuries. Many Chinese would rather use these herbal formulas first for a minor injury. I would certainly advise readers to seek proper medical attention in case of serious injury.

Xiao Huo Luo Dan is taken as a pill, and generally used for backaches, muscle strains, and broken bones. This is available prepackaged with directions for use. Like all herbal medicines, it is best to use as directed on the package.

Bai Hua Yu is a fragrant analgesic oil, used for stiff muscles and strains as a result of "over doing it." I usually refer to it as "Chinese Ben Gay." Avoid getting the oil on your face, as it can irritate the eyes.

Tian Qi Jiu is an herbal liniment for bruises. Usually, the person using it rubs it on topically into bruises or contusions.

Yunnan Bai Yao is a powder that stops bleeding immediately and is used when you have minor cuts or scrapes, or if you cut yourself shaving. During the Vietnam War, soldiers were given a supply of this powder for firearm wounds. It was so precious that soldiers referred to it as a "gold they wouldn't trade." Dramatically, this powder can stop bleeding instantly and promote healing with little to no scarring.

Finally, Zheng Gu Shui is a fine liniment for minor bruises, strains, and minor fractures to the fingers or toes. It also helps stop the pain that may occur due to minor sports injuries. It is also best to avoid on the face as it can irritate the eyes.

All of these commercial patents are available at your local Chinatown drug store or Chinese herbalist. If your goal is hard training, or you have sustained a more severe injury, it is better to visit a Chinese herbalist to create a formula based on your individual constitution, climate, and type of training or injury. Just because herbal formulas are natural, does not mean they are not dangerous medicine when used incorrectly. Many immuno-comprised individuals and pregnant women should avoid herbal trauma prescriptions as the herbs may be somewhat toxic or have affects regarding blood flow and may lead to miscarriage.

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Chinese Herbal Prozac: Depression and Traditional Chinese Medicine

By: Brian Benjamin Carter

In clinical setting we frequently see patients who are taking antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor, and Wellbutrin. Chinese herbs like Albizzia may be an alternative to psychiatric drugs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic medicine- it has never separated the mind and body, and so can comprehensively treat conditions with both physical and mental symptoms.

Causes of Depression
As with all disease, we need an accurate diagnosis before we can begin treatment. Depression has many causes. Not all of them will be helped by antidepressants. If your self-esteem is intact, your mood does not vary during the day, and you are not impaired socially, your depression may have a physical cause.

Some physical/biomedical causes of depression are: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, normal grief, vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, folate deficiency anemia, viral disease, connective tissue/collagen disorders (arthritis), an organic brain disorder, drug side-effects, cancer, and endocrine abnormalities. Chinese Medicine can enhance the health of anyone with any of these conditions.

Psychiatric Drug Therapy
Controlling depression with pharmaceuticals usually requires weeks or months of experimentation with various drugs at different dosages. During this experimentation, the patient experiences physical and mental side-effects which can range from the annoying to the unbearable. Chinese herbal medicine, properly practiced, does not cause side-effects and so may ultimately be preferable to psychiatric medications.

However, there are many grave situations where psychiatric pharmaceuticals are essential, and not taking them can endanger the well-being, or even the life of the patient. More and more M.D.'s are now working to minimize the amount of pharmaceuticals taken by each patient, and some are even working with OMD's to utilize acupuncture and chinese herbs to slowly take the patient off of drugs and cure the root problem. 

How Chinese Medicine Diagnoses Depression
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we always conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient. Symptoms and other diagnostic findings are like the pieces of a puzzle. The puzzle is a diagnosis that describes a patientps particular imbalances. Treatment arises naturally from this diagnosis. In TCM (unlike western biomedicine) there is a treatment for every diagnosis.

One simple way to understand depression is to use TCM's 5-Element system. The 5 Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element is associated with a particular strength, weaknesses, color, sound, etc. Three common 5-Element types in depression are Earth, Water, and Wood.

Earth-Type Depression Water-Type Depression

Wood-Type Depression

"Can't keep up"

"Can't get it up"

"All bunched up"

Digestive Problems, Weight Gain, Fatigue, Loose Stool

Impotence, Morning Diarrhea, Knee and Low Back Problems, Frequent Urination

Eye Problems (red, painful, dry, etc.), Wiry build, Pain in ribcage area, Headaches on top or sides of head

Worry, Overwhelm


Irritability, Frustration, Anger, Short Temper

Earth Types : can't keep up. They often experience digestive deficiency, become tired and overwhelmed easily, and are prone to worry and weight gain. They become depressed as a result of deficiency.

Water Types have deficiencies in their 'root' energy. This is most associated with old age, or extreme chronic illness.

Wood Types get depressed because they are all bunched up. They are easy to anger. When anger is focused inward, it turns into depression. They are irritable, have short tempers, and tend to be skinnier than the Earth Type. Wood types become depressed as a result of stagnation.

Of course, a TCM diagnosis must be much more specific than this before treatment can begin. Then the practitioner moves from diagnosis, What is the disease?

To treatment principles, What strategies should we use to balance the patient? For example, they may want to increase the patient's energy, move stagnation, and calm the spirit. Herbs and herb formulas are chosen that fit the patient's symptoms, diagnosis, and the practitioner's treatment principles.

Albizzia - Chinese Herbal Prozac Alternative?
Cortex Albizzia Julbrissin (mimosa tree bark) is a TCM herb in the åNourish the Heart and Calm the Spiritp category. It is traditionally used to calm the spirit and relieve emotional constraint when the associated symptoms of bad temper, depression, insomnia, irritability and poor memory are present. It also relieves pain and dissipates abscesses and swelling due to trauma (including fractures).

The flower of the mimosa tree is also used to relieve constrained Liver qi, and calm the spirit when the associated symptoms of insomnia, poor memory, irritability, epigastric pain, and feelings of pressure in the chest are present. Research has shown that the flower of the mimosa tree has a sedative effect.

German scientists assert that mimosa tree bark is part of the heavily-guarded Coca Cola recipe (a concoction that has been making people happy for decades!).

Understanding the meaning of åSpiritp
In Chinese Medicine, åspiritp is conscious awareness, the more emotional and elusive aspect of being. The body must be in a good state of health, and there must be sufficient nourishment and balance for the spirit to be at peace. When improper diet, extreme emotions, trauma, and external diseases injure the body, the spirit does not have a comfortable place to rest. To address this problem, we balance the underlying problem, but in the meantime we also calm the spirit. Thus, in TCM, we treat the cause of the depression AND we calm the spirit so that the patient feels happier and more at peace.

It is safe to say that there are people on anti-depressant medications that do not need them. More exacting diagnosis by all healthcare practitioners will lead to more appropriate treatments. Psychiatric medications often cause unwanted side-effects. Proper TCM treatment does not cause side-effects. Because TCM is a holistic medicine that integrates the body and mind in its diagnostic process and treatment strategies, it is a viable solution for the treatment of depression.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power."

Lao-Tzu (6th century B.C.) , Legendary Chinese philosopher

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - December 2004 |


Welcome to the latest issue of the Pacific College Newsletter! In this issue you will find:


•  Important December Dates

•  No Flu Vaccine? What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

•  Pediatric Acupuncture - Common Childhood Ailments that Respond to Acupuncture

•  Home Remedy For a Cough

•  Winter Health Notes

•  Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day


Important December Dates to Remember

•  December 9 New York Open House

•  December 11 Chicago Open House (Massage)

•  December 20 New Student Orientation for San Diego

•  December 29 New Student Orientation for New York


No Flu Vaccine? What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that people at high risk for serious flu complications make the effort to seek the 2004 flu vaccine. But, whether or not they are in the 'vulnerable' groups of pregnant women, chronically ill, elderly, or those with compromised immune systems, many people have been frightened by the non-availability of the 2004 flu vaccine. However, there are several other approaches to maintaining good health in bad weather, and the field of acupuncture and Oriental medicine provides some tried and true steps that can go a long way towards preventing infection.

Many people talk about the flu "going around" as though it infected everyone in its path. The reality is that only a portion of those exposed to a virus get sick. This is because one of the biggest factors is the internal environment of the body. Germs only lead to illness when the body is out of balance and immunity is weakened.

Practicing good health habits can help prevent the flu. The five important AWARE tips are:

Avoid germs . Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Wash your hands often to help protect yourself from germs. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Warmth . Keep your neck and chest protected from wind, drafts and cold. The Oriental medical perspective is that wind invasions make people more vulnerable to developing colds and flu.

Acupuncture . Get a treatment to boost your immune system.

Relax and sleep enough . Your immune system is susceptible to stress. Use any stress-reduction methods (like yoga, massage or meditation) to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Eat and Exercise less . Avoid simple sugars (processed food and baked goods, alcohol, etc.). Choosing less acid foods raises the body's Ph and makes you less susceptible. Exercise lightly and daily. You don't want to go outside being overheated.

To make an appointment at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine's clinic to assess your general state of health call (619) 574-6932. Acupuncture can use traditional methods to balance your energy to make you less vulnerable to environmental influences, as well as prescribe herbal drinks or pills that help you stay strong.


Pediatric Acupuncture - Common Childhood Ailments that Respond to Acupuncture

By: Marc Sklar, LAc

Who better to reap the benefits of preventative medicine then those most pure; children? Children seem to gain large benefits from preventative medicine and when it their reaction to Oriental Medicine it's no different. Oriental Medicine has been treating children for centuries, and as it turns out Pediatrics is one of the medicines best specialties (since the Song Dynasty - 960-1279). Our children are so precious to us and watching them be sick is difficult as parents and through the treatments of Oriental Medicine we can strengthen the child and decrease illness. Oriental medicine views the treatment of children to be extremely important, and when treating children the most important system to treat is usually the digestive system. A classic Chinese saying that expressed this is xiao er pi bu zu, "Children's Spleen is often insufficient". The focus

of the digestive system in Oriental medicine consists of the Spleen and Stomach systems.

"According to Chinese medical theory, children's spleens and stomachs up to the age of approximately six are inherently immature (because they are still developing). That means they do not function as efficiently as a healthy adult's does." Until then the digestive systems are weak and overworked, so it is not uncommon to see children complaining of various digestive upset from diarrhea to indigestion. In Chinese Medicine

these complaints can be classified as an accumulation of food. Children's digestion is easily damaged by poor diets and an unnecessary use of antibiotics. When antibiotics are used they kill the "bad" bacteria which is possibly causing the illness.

Antibiotics simultaneously kill the "good" bacteria (flora) found in your intestines. This "good" flora is necessary for a strong digestive system and a healthy immune system. Persistant antibiotic use can lead to children have poor digestive systems or a recurring illness. 


Parents might then ask, what is the best diet for my children? Children should be fed easy to digest foods, otherwise known as a clear and bland diet. This type of diet allows the child's digestive system to work more efficiently. Infants should be feed breast milk above all else, as it is the best food for infants. Some mothers opt for formula instead of breast milk. For more information on the benefits of breast feeding read the FDA information at http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/895_brstfeed.html . Even though breast milk is theoptimal food for infants, a mother can still overfeed the infant with her breast milk. Parents should be careful not to overfeed as this could lead to an accumulation of food in the baby's stomach. So why breast milk? Breast milk has the proper antibodies necessary to keep a baby's immune system strong and functioning optimally. "When solid foods are introduced, one should start with easily digestible foods, like cooked carrots and well-cooked grains such as cream of rice. Because the process of digestion in Chinese medicine is likened to a process of cooking and distillation, foods which are cooked are, in general, more easily digested than uncooked foods. In other words, cooking is predigestion. Therefore, infants and very young children do best when they are fed mostly cooked, mashed, partially predigested foods then when they eat few uncooked, chilled, or cold foods. Chilled and cold foods "douse" the fire of the spleen and (make it difficult to digest the food.) Likewise, drinking too many liquids and especially with meals "swamp" the spleen. In addition, foods that Chinese medicine labels as very "dampening" also easily harm the spleen when eaten excessively. These include sugars and sweets in general, dairy products (and especially chilled dairy products such as cheese and yogurt), peanut and other nut butters, and bread."

What are some causes for disease/Illness in Children?

There are several factors that can contribute to disease in any person and the same is true of children. In Oriental Medicine there are internal and external causes of disease. The external causes are linked to natural phenomenon that the Chinese observed to be true and the cause of illness. These external causes are wind, cold, dryness, heat, and dampness. When these factors are experienced in an excess amount then they may cause illness. They may also cause illness if the child has a weak constitution leaving them vulnerable to illness. Another common cause of disease is emotional factors, also known as the seven affects. Emotions are usually not a cause for illness in children, as they do not hold back from expressing their emotions. If children do go through emotional problems at home this can lead to illness and some examples of illness arising out of emotional disturbances are asthma, insomnia, urogenital disorders, and a number of mental illnesses. As I mentioned above, diet is large cause for illness in children. Some dietary problems that may cause illness are too little food, too much food, irregular feeding, unsuitable milk, early weaning, and food allergies. All of these factors contribute to illnesses, as the digestive system is inherently weak in children.

Common illness treated with Oriental medicine: Constipation

Constipation is seen frequently in children, as their digestive systems are delicate. If baby does not have a bowel movement for one day this is considered constipation. If this continues this is more serious then the occasional missed day and treatment should be sot out. There are two main causes for constipation in children. The first is an accumulation and overeating, irregular eating, and eating raw indigestible foods can cause this. As this causes more of a strain on the spleen and stomach systems it leads to the common pattern of accumulation. Constipation can also be caused by a weak spleen and stomach. This weakness can be acquired by poor diet, prolonged digestive upset and recurrent illness The accumulation disorders respond quicker to treatment, as the child's digestive system is still somewhat strong. The same cannot be said for a child affected by a weak digestive system. The treatment for this is longer as the practitioner needs to work on strengthening the child's digestive system.


Parents know all to well the sound of their child coughing. A chronic cough can disturb the entire family. The child and parents are unable to sleep because the cough is keeping them up. Some of the diagnoses attributed to a cough are phlegm in the lungs, a weakness of the lungs are spleen, and a lingering illness. Seeing as we are speaking about the lungs when we speak about a cough it is not uncommon to see the lungs affected with this disease. Some of the factors that contribute to chronic coughs in children are eating phlegm producing foods, unnecessary use of antibiotics, poor digestion, overtired, long term illness, and immunizations. When treating this illness acupuncture and herbal medicine are important but are not the only treatment. As with all childhood illnesses diet is as important as any other treatment.

Otitis Media

Otitis Media is a very common illness in babies and children. Ear infections are no fun for the child as the pain is extremely uncomfortable, and the parents are scared that their child might become deaf due to the infection. It is for this reason that parents rush to bring their children to the doctor to receive antibiotics, and if the problem persists to have tubes placed in the ear. I am sure that parents will be happy to hear that there are other treatments that can help treat Otitis Media without the side effects of western medicine.

Acute ear infections are usually attributed to a virus or bacteria affecting the ear. If the infection is caused by a virus western medicine has little to offer in the form of treatment, yet many times antibiotics are still prescribed. The treatment of otitis media with frequent doses of antibiotics can cause the pathogen to linger leading to chronic otitis media. Julian Scott, OMD says, "Alternatively the lingering pathogenic factor can be traced to an immunization, commonly the pertussis vaccine."

Regardless of the cause Oriental medicine has a good tract record for treating both the acute and chronic variations. The acute otitis media is much easier to treat with the child experiencing relief quickly. For chronic otitis media the child will feel relief with the treatment however, continued treatment is necessary to make a long lasting effect.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic Rhinitis, also known as allergies or hay fever, can cause seasonal problems for children. The good thing about this illness is that it hopefully only comes once a year, the negative is that it can be debilitating for children when it does come on. The symptoms of nasal congestion, discharge and irritation, sneezing, red and watery eyes and headache to name a few can cause great problems for children. Parents will be happy to know that Oriental Medicine can make a great impact on this problem. Aside from diet which we have discussed in the past illnesses, the lung, liver, and spleen can be the center of the problem. The liver is quite often affected and you can usually determine this by irritability and a red face. The best time to treat this is a month before the symptoms usually appear. You can always see a practitioner when the symptoms arise, but if you are interested in preventing the symptoms from arising then treatment before the symptoms appear is best.

Hyperactivity, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention

Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Parents, teachers, friends, and family all suffer when children are hyperactive. Children can be very energetic, disruptive, rude and violent when they have this disorder. This disorder has some clear diagnoses in Oriental Medicine, which is in contract to western medicine. Where as conventional medicine "there are few tools with which to help these children other than drugs", Oriental medicine makes large strides with acupuncture and herbal medicine.

The four main causes for Hyperactivity are Heat, Phlegm Heat, Weakness in the digestive system (spleen), and kidney weakness. When treating these patterns length of treatment may vary but usually children need to be seen 10 to 30 times. It is also important to be prepared for the child's response to treatment. Children may actually become a little wild, angry, and yell during and after treatment according to Scott. This response will diminish with continued treatment. As usual it is also extremely important to change the child's diet. A reduction in sugar, food colorings, junk food and dairy is necessary, along with a reduction in television and video games.

Common conditions treated with Oriental Medicine

. Cough

. Allergies

. Fever

. Asthma

. ADD and ADHD

. Urinary Tract Infections

. Bed Wetting

. And More


What modalities do I use to treat Children?

Parents are usually weary of bringing in their child to get acupuncture because of its association with needles. Children usually do not have a problem with needles. Regardless of the fear or not, not all treatments need to use needles. Quite often I use an acupressure machine at the acupuncture point to send a small pulse to the area of need. This pulse feels like a small tapping and some children even feel like it tickles. Often with treat children become more and more comfortable with the experience.

Another important therapy for children is herbal medicine. Herbal medicine has been used for centuries in China and in the treatment of Children. Antibiotics are not always necessary and with herbal medicine you can bypass the side effects experienced from taking medication. Herbal medicine is used for a short period of time when treating acute conditions and longer when treating chronic diseases.


Julian Scott and Teresa Barlow, Acupuncture in the

treatment of Children, Eastland Press, Seattle,

Washington 1999

Bob Flaws, The Essence of Chinese Pediatrics


Home Remedy For a Cough

By: Xiaomei Cai

 A cough is caused by a muscle spasm that occurs as a reaction to irritation or a blockage in the bronchial tubes (the tubes connected from the throat to the lungs).

Coughs often occur in conjunction with infections, such as the common cold or influenza, but are sometimes associated with nervous tension and have no pathological cause. Many of us have experienced a cough after a cold. Coughs are known to get worse at night associated with thirst and a dry nose or throat. This home remedy is to help control a persistent cough with or without phlegm.

To prepare this home remedy you will need some pears (preferably Asian pears), Chuan Bei Mu powder (available at Tao of Wellness herb room or at an herb store). The ratio is 3g of powder for each pear.

The traditional preparation is steaming. Before cooking, cut off the cap of the pear and remove the core, but leave the skin on. Put 3 grams of Chuan Bei Mu powder into the pear. Then put the cap back on top of the pear and connect them with a toothpick. Place the stuffed pear into a bowl, place the bowl inside a steamer or a pot with water surrounding the bowl. Make sure no water gets inside the bowl where the pear sits. Cover the steamer or the pot with a lid. Steam for 15-60 minutes. The longer it steams the better. It is ready to be eaten. For best results adults should eat 2 pears a day and children only 1 pear a day.


Winter Health Notes

In Traditional Chinese Medicine our bodies and our selves reflect the natural world we live in. Being in harmony with the seasons increases health and well-being.

.Winter's primary element is water, the element of spiritual connection. This is a great time to reevaluate and reinvigorate choices to support our bodies, our goals, and most of all, our spirit.

. Meditation and other quiet spiritual pursuits can help reduce anxiety, fear and depression, and can lead to a deeper connection with people and the world.

.Colors for winter are black & deep blue which restore us.

Be sure to get rest. Soaking and rubbing your feet can also restore energy.

.Eat more cooked and less raw foods in winter. Warming spices, like cinnamon, and stews and soups, especially with black beans, nurture your health and strengthen your immune system this time of year. Fresh ginger tea can ward off colds & flu.

.....Did you know that Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat: Addiction; Anxiety, Depression & Stress; Arthritis; Asthma; Back Pain; Ear Ringing; Fatigue; Fertility; Hair Loss; Impotence & Low Libido; Kidney disorders; Knee Problems; Leg & Foot Pain; Sciatica; Urinary Incontinence & more. .....


Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love."

Mao Zedong (1893-1976)